Grand opening for Puna Kai shopping center set for October

  • Courtesy photo Work continues on the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa.
  • Work continues on the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa.

  • An aerial look at the Puna Kai shopping center, under construction in Pahoa. Courtesy photos

  • An aerial view of the Puna Kai shopping center, under construction in Pahoa. Courtesy photos

  • Courtesy photo Work continues on the Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa.

HILO — The Puna Kai shopping center in Pahoa is nearing completion, and an October grand opening is planned.

Developer Gary Pinkston said Wednesday that the project is about 90 percent complete.


“We’re on target, and many, many kudos … to Mayor (Harry) Kim and the entire county, (who) have been the best that I’ve dealt with anywhere in probably 30 years,” he said.

Pinkston said that a third of the site would be paved last week, a bus stop is going in and landscaping is ongoing.

There’s also “significant tenant improvement work” in process, he said.

Traffic signals, located where the newly extended Kahakai Boulevard intersects with Keaau-Pahoa Road just past the Pahoa roundabout, “are almost lit up,” and the center is almost fully leased.

A state Department of Transportation spokesman said the DOT and county are coordinating to activate the traffic signal to coincide with the Puna Kai development project. Once activated, the signal will be operated by the county.

Only 5,000 square feet of the 120,000 shopping center remains to be leased, but Pinkston said “possible tenants are looking at that.”

The demand for space has been high, he said.

Sitting on 9.93 acres near Kahakai Boulevard and Pahoa Village Road, Puna Kai will feature retail, office, dining and entertainment space, according to The development will be anchored by the 35,000-square-foot Malama Market, which will relocate from its current site in Pahoa.

“Malama Market will be such an attraction,” Pinkston said. “People from Hilo will come to shop there.”

The store will be state-of-the-art, with gourmet food, wine and restaurants, he said, “just like what Foodland built in Ala Moana Shopping Center.”

Work on the project is being done with Hilo subcontractors, Pinkston said, and once it’s opened, Puna Kai will employ about 250 people.

Pinkston said Pahoa was selected for the development because of the demand for retail services there.

“Malama Market wanted to relocated and expand. O’Reilly’s wanted to come, McDonald’s wanted to come, Popeyes wanted to come,” Pinkston said. “There’s huge demand. There’s no services in Pahoa.”

Confirmed tenants for Puna Kai are: Malama Market, Aloha Petroleum, Chef TK, Outrigger Coffee Co., Pahoa Veterinary Hospital, Black Lava Vape, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Pizza Hut, SusHI, Under the Bodhi Tree, O’Reilly Auto Parts, McDonald’s, Jeans Warehouse, Family Health &Wellness Center, Stratos New York Pizzeria, Hilo Bay Realty, Coco Cantina, Island Photo, Super Cuts, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Fitness Forever, Goodwill, Super Cuts and Banzos.


Pinkston said a grand opening celebration is being planned for Oct. 25.

Email Stephanie Salmons at

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